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Leptin & Thyroid Autoimmunity

Increased leptin levels correlate with thyroid autoantibodies in non-obese males. This is the first time I have seen documented that increased leptin correlated with thyroid antibodies in non-obese subjects. This finding emphasizes the importance of a healthy diet and metabolism for promoting thyroid health.

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Leptin & Thyroid Autoimmunity

Dr. Michael Ruscio: Hi, this is Dr. Ruscio. And let’s discuss leptin and thyroid autoimmunity. Now, leptin is a molecule released by fat cells. And it has been previously shown that in obese subjects, there is a correlation between leptin levels and thyroid autoimmunity. However, I’m always a little bit cautious about looking at an obese population and a correlation with markers there because there are many diseases and imbalances that can be secondary to being obese.

What was recently published — and I’ll put the abstract for this study up on the screen here — is that in non-overweight males, the higher the leptin levels, that correlated with a higher thyroid autoimmunity. Now, again, leptin being released by fat cells and may be one of the molecules that we see as part of this insulin-resistant metabolic syndrome and, potentially in these non overweight males, what may be brewing under the surface leading to weight gain in the future.

This is very interesting because what this suggests is that if you’re not eating a diet that is healthy for you and you’re starting to see these negative metabolic changes, that potentially may influence in a negative way thyroid autoimmunity.

So this reinforces something that I think most people probably understand. Eating a healthy diet is going to be very important for managing thyroid autoimmunity. Or we can speculate that eating a healthy diet and a diet that’s healthy from a metabolic perspective can be helpful for thyroid autoimmunity.

You may have heard me speak previously about different type diets that can be helpful for thyroid autoimmunity. Certainly, a gluten or grain-free diet is something to consider. Also, less well discussed but maybe equally as important would be a low-iodine diet.

There have been trials done where they’ve increased one’s iodine intake. And that has correlated with an increased thyroid autoimmunity. And then decreased one’s iodine intake, and that’s correlated with an improvement of thyroid autoimmunity. So certainly, a low-iodine diet can be helpful.

And then this would be another piece that I think you would really achieve when eating just a generally healthy diet, hopefully which would be eating a diet that would manage your leptin levels. And the easiest way that potentially one could know if a diet would be managing their leptin levels would be if the diet helps with blood sugar levels and weight. Oftentimes when we put a patient on a paleo-type diet, they will see a weight loss. And we don’t track their leptin. But I know that their leptin is improving as a part of that process most likely.

So in this study it was shown for the first time, to my knowledge, that in non-overweight and non-obese people, the levels of leptin correlated with thyroid autoimmunity. The higher the leptin, the higher the thyroid autoimmunity. This may be another piece in the puzzle that we can use to try to really do the best that we can with thyroid autoimmunity.

So it comes back to what is a very simple principle, which is eat a healthy diet, that seems to produce a favorable change in your weight. And if you’re struggling with that, I would look into working with a clinician who may be able to help you sort through that. And/or before maybe going to a clinician, you can tinker with different dietary derivations. Higher or lower carbs seems to be the biggest issue here.

Most of the evidence shows a lower-carb diet tends to be better for weight loss. But there are some that actually lose weight and feel better and have better blood sugar on a moderate- to higher-carbohydrate diet. So I would recommend starting low-carb, seeing how you do there for a few weeks. Slowly increase your carbs every week. And see if you can find a spot on the carbohydrate intake spectrum that works best for you.

This is Dr. Ruscio. I hope this helps you get healthy and get back to your life. Thanks.

If you need help managing your thyroid health and your weight, click here

What do you think? I would like to hear your thoughts or experience with this.


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